These days it’s hard to imagine a world without a screen available at the ready. The Digital Age requires us to be plugged in, synced up, and cellular in all situations. With so much available any time, the idea of not having the internet, or an internet capable device, feels uncomfortable. Even without a connection, we can watch movies on tablets, play games on phones, listen to music on our iPods, and do work on our laptops.
Still, isn’t the point of going away to unplug? Maybe. But the convenience of a device can come in handy in a pinch. Which is to say, it’s understandable if you feel stumped when it comes to packing – do you really need to bring these devices? After all, they’re expensive, they aren’t all that durable, they add weight, they take up space, and you have to keep them charged. That said, the world is digital, is it really necessary to become a luddite when you travel? Consider these options to help you decide if packing electronics is the right call for your vacation.
Domestic or International?
The question of practicality comes into play when you pack. The main thing to do is think about where you’re going, and what you’re doing. Is it practical for you to bring a tablet and a laptop, and a phone, and whatever other gadget you’re bringing? A big decider has to do with whether you’re staying in the U.S. or not. A lot of your devices won’t even work without a WiFi connection overseas, which puts you on a WiFi hunt instead of enjoying the sights.
But if you’re just going to another state, you can use your equipment most anywhere. Domestic travel tends to be shorter, so you probably have the space to pack some extra items. There’s really no harm in packing a little more. Just remember that theft is easy and frequent with electronics.
What Kind of Trip?
If you’re going to hike in the Himalayas, you don’t need much more than your phone, which won’t even work in a remote area like that. Even in parts of America, say the Rocky Mountains, you might not get a signal. But the idea is, if you’re going on adventure travel, you may spend more time worrying about your device getting wet or trampled on than actually using the thing.
That said, if you’re going on a fly by the seat of your pants trip, it could come in really handy to have your phone. You can book hotels, flights, and find fun things to do in a city – that way, you won’t waste your time visiting a place that’s sold out or doesn’t quite have what you were looking for.
If your trip is at a cabin in the woods, or involves long stretches in the car or on the plane, a tablet or a phone can pass the time.
Finally, if it’s a work trip, you’re probably already planning on bringing your laptop – if not, definitely take that as a carry on.
Which Devices to Bring?
Our phones provide a kind of safety net, no matter where we are in the world. It stands to reason you should bring your phone regardless of where you travel. Things get a little more complicated when it comes to other devices.
If you plan on exercising, or you just like to tune people out on the plane or in the car, a music player is an option. For the latter, you could also just download songs onto your phone and use the music function. One less thing to think about, right? There are arm bands available for purchase that hold your phone for exercise, so you can even ditch the music player in that scenario, too.
Tablets are great if you’re traveling with kids. If not, it’s hard to argue a reason for bringing one – unless you don’t bring a laptop. Essentially, between your phone and your laptop, everything your tablet can do is covered. Every trip is different, but make sure you have a real justifiable reason to bring both.
Laptops are really only necessary if you’re traveling for a long period of time, or you anticipate the need to do computer work while you’re away. More than likely, you won’t even crack the thing open and a laptop is by far the most cumbersome of all devices to bring.
Lastly, a reading tablet is an excellent option. This is the caveat to bringing a tablet that doubles as a reading device. A reading tablet is much lighter than a book, and if you finish before the trip is over, you have another book available without having to carry another item on the plane – and books are heavy!
Electronics are amazing, and there’s no question they make life more convenient. But humanity did function for most of its existence without them. What do you think? Are electronics necessary on a vacation?